Average capacity factors for simple-cycle, natural gas turbine power plants in the U.S. surpassed 20% for two consecutive summer months in 2022, the first time on record. This is according to the latest monthly data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

While the average monthly capacity factor for this group of plants has grown annually since 2020, they operated at a 17% average capacity factor from June through August during the past five summers.

Simple-cycle gas turbine power plants typically operate year-round but are most active during the summer, when electricity demand reaches its peak and varies the most. According to EIA, the average monthly capacity factor during the rest of 2022 fell to around 10% as a result of less electricity demand and more consistent wind-powered electricity generation.

Simple-cycle gas turbine power plants are the second-largest source of U.S. natural gas-fired power generation, after combined-cycle natural gas turbine power plants. Total U.S. simple-cycle gas turbine plant operating capacity was 132,274 MW in December 2022, according to the agency.

An estimated 2,121 MW of new SCGT capacity entered service in 2021, and EIA expects that another 1,196 MW entered service in 2022. Texas accounted for nearly half of the 2021 and 2022 capacity additions because of its need for more fast-starting generating capacity.

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